By Elen Evans

STEM Ginger Education

Nature-based projects through English

Jane Kirsch

Hello, my name is Jane Kirsch and I am delighted to be joining Elen Evans at STEM Ginger Education.

I have been based in Barcelona for over 20 years, working as English teacher and teacher trainer, and more recently as a CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) editor for Vicens Vives and lead teacher on the CLIL module of the Technology-Mediated Language Teaching and Learning Master’s course at the UOC (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)

 

I have a PhD in education from the University of Nottingham, which focused on how CLIL has been implemented in classrooms in Catalonia.

Jane Kirsch

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I first became interested in CLIL when I was an ELT teacher working at a secondary school in Barcelona. Finding language learning difficult myself, I really felt for my teenage students who struggled in English but knew that they had to get a good level to get access to university and a future career.

CLIL provides a solution to the problem faced by many students who, despite years of English language lessons, are leaving school with barely an A2 level.

CLIL involves learning a content subject, like geography or biology, through English. Students do not just gain additional hours of English language learning; they are given a natural context for language acquisition. Learners motivated by the content subject have a real reason to communicate, whether they are discussing the results of a science experiment or debating the pros and cons of different European immigration policies.

As well as improving students’ language competence, CLIL boosts learner motivation, enhances intercultural understanding, and has a positive effect on learning skills and cognition.

At STEM Ginger Education, we offer support and training for teachers to ensure their CLIL lessons are a success.

This involves helping teachers to:

  • plan lessons using the 4Cs methodology (Coyle, 1999)
  • create materials appropriate for the subject matter and language level.
  • foster creative and critical thinking.
  • develop new skills to support learners (e.g. error correction techniques)
  • incorporate a wide variety of activities, which might not be typical of a content lesson (e.g. listening tasks, structured speaking activities, language skills work, etc.)
  • use scaffolding techniques.

Our Global Citizen courses and Environmental Warriors activities demonstrate that CLIL does more than teach a content subject in a foreign language. The real-world context develops students’ critical thinking and collaboration skills and gives them the self-confidence to tackle some of the big issues facing the world today.

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